Visits to the tiny mountain hamlets of Pine and Strawberry wouldn't be complete without stops at the state's oldest standing schoolhouse and the town museum.
The one-room Strawberry Schoolhouse, located on Fossil Creek Road about three miles west of Highway 87, was built of hand-hewn pine logs in 1885.
It has since been fully restored and outfitted with period desks, chalkboards and school books. Many a visitor has remarked that walking into the schoolhouse is like stepping back in time.
A few miles to the south in the heart of Pine, the town museum features displays and artifacts that date back to the 1800s when Mormon pioneers first settled the two small communities.
History buffs can learn that in 1890, when the Mormon families of Rial Allen, Marion Allen, Alexander Allen, Price Nelson, Lee Heward and William Hunt requested permission from the church president to abandon the settlement of Pine, the survival of the community was threatened.
The pioneers who remained in Pine took great pride in their self reliance by the sale of timber.
The future of the community was secured by the 1900s.
A museum video presentation on the life and times of the early pioneers is a great way to learn more about the communities.
Today, Pine and Strawberry are rapidly growing vacation and retirement communities. To the credit of those who live there, newcomers retain the strong sense of small-town pride first instilled by the early pioneers.
The popularity of Pine is often attributed to its moderate climate, rural setting, low crime rate and easy access to the Valley of the Sun.
The pace of the two neighboring communities picks up in the summer months when Valley visitors retreat to the high country seeking cool respite from the searing desert heat.
Arts and crafts festivals set for May 29 to 30, July 3 to 4 and Sept. 4 to 5 usually draw overflow crowds to Pine.
Most of the activities in Pine are held in or near the community center located at the old school house in the middle of town on the west side of the highway.
The Strawberry Patchers Quilt Show (June 11 to June 13) and the Strawberry Festival (June 12 and June 13) also attract swarms of visitors.
The 108th Army National Guard band is scheduled to put on a free concert July 5.
The fate of the community's annual Independence Day fireworks celebration won't be determined until later in the summer. If forest fire danger lessens and the festivities go as planned, the free fireworks will draw onlookers from around the high country.
The best bet for a bird's eye view is to park the family half-ton, with the bed pointing in a westerly direction, on any of the roads that circle the Pine Strawberry School. Climb in the bed of the truck, unfold a lawn chair, reach into the ice chest for a cool beverage and prepare yourself for a thrilling fireworks display.
The Pine Strawberry Historical Society will sponsor a play, "Legends and Lovers," at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 21 in the Pine Community Center. The performance concerns the lives of Doc Holliday and Big-nose Kate.
The third Wednesday of each month in the community center, a fiddlers jam session will assuredly tickle the fancy of music aficionados.
In the month of August, free movies will be shown each Friday evening.
For those who want to spend a few extra days exploring Pine and Strawberry, the towns have accommodations. They include the Pine Crest Bed and Breakfast (928-476-4265), Pine Haven Bed and Breakfast (928-476-3809), Strawberry Lodge (928-476-3333) and the Cabins on Strawberry Hill (928-476-4252).
For more information on any of activities in Pine and Strawberry, call (928) 476-3547.